AUSTIN, Texas — A former CBS News “60 Minutes” correspondent, whose award-winning career was tarnished by an inaccurate report on the 2012 Benghazi attack, has filed a lawsuit against a magazine that slammed her for the error.
Lara Logan, who lives in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband and children, is asking for more than $25 million from the parent company of New York magazine.
For nearly 15 years, Logan, 48, covered the world’s biggest stories for the popular Sunday evening television news program. The 46-page lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Austin, suggests Logan’s diminished role and eventual departure from “60 Minutes” was the result of a “hit piece” from contributing writer Joe Hagan.
Hagan’s story, which appeared in May 2014 under the headline “Benghazi and the Bombshell,” included what the lawsuit called “a legion of false and defamatory statements about Logan.”
“The defendants published disgraceful, click-bait, sensationalist, egregious misstatements simply to sell magazines,” wrote attorney Ty Clevenger.
The magazine, facing the threat of a lawsuit from Logan this past September, refused to issue a clarification, correction or retraction, the lawsuit states. A New York magazine representative declined to comment when reached by the American-Statesman this week. Hogan did not return a message for comment.
Logan’s career took a nosedive in October 2013 when “60 Minutes” aired a story by her on the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead at two U.S. government facilities. Logan, in the story, conducted an on-camera interview with British security officer Dylan Davies, who told an untrue story in which he portrayed himself as a hero fighting against the attackers. Davies also claimed to have seen the body of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens at the hospital. He repeated these tales in a book he released around the time of the interview.
The new information led CBS to retract the story and place Logan on a leave of absence in November 2013.
Logan, according to the lawsuit, maintained the support of her bosses and was scheduled to return to “60 Minutes” the following summer. But those plans were derailed, the lawsuit alleges, after then-CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves read the New York magazine story in May 2014 and expressed outrage about its attacks on his leadership.
Moonves, according to the lawsuit, thought the story made him look like a misogynist and painted him and executive producer Jeffrey B. Fager as “two lapdogs who allowed Logan to run wild because of her good looks.”
The story, citing a common view from Logan’s colleagues at CBS, stated her “star power blinded her superiors to her flaws.” Citing a former CBS producer, the article stated Logan often boasted about her direct line to the company’s top brass and threatened to have people fired “with a phone call.” Hagan, the writer, opined that bringing down presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whose leadership as U.S. Secretary of State was questioned after the Benghazi attacks, “was the kind of story a reporter like Lara Logan would take risks to get.”
Hagan, the lawsuit notes, also downplayed the seriousness of an attack Logan endured while on assignment in Egypt in 2011 in which she stated an angry mob of men removed her clothes and raped her with their hands. Hagan wrote that the mob had “groped” her.
“Defendants’ misconduct exemplifies the very worst of modern journalism,” the lawsuit states.
Logan, 48, returned to “60 Minutes” in June 2014, one month after Hagan’s story appeared in the magazine, but in a scaled-back role, the lawsuit says. She struggled to get assignments, getting bypassed for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris — even though she speaks French and has counter-terrorism sources in France — and was not assigned stories near her home in Texas, such as flooding along the Gulf Coast or the Sutherland Springs church shooting.
Logan’s annual salary, which at one point had topped $2 million, dwindled to $750,000.
Her last story with “60 Minutes” appeared in July 2018. Her contract, which expired the next month, was not renewed. Logan in April 2019 joined Sinclair Broadcast Group on a 90-day assignment focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border.